Summer is on the backslide but I’m clinging even to the hottest days, trying not to get ahead of myself season-wise. I’m in love with heat (oh THAT’S what basements are for!), with fewer clothes, with indolence. There’s corn on the cob and there’s watermelon. The garden is peaking, with one or three things to harvest daily. I thought the blueberries were done, but went back to check after a week and there was a whole new batch to pick, even sweeter than before. In a few months those bagsfull in the freezer will give me a little taste of summer love.
Fernhill Wetlands gave me a little taste of summer love as well, clear blue skies overhead with only the wispiest of clouds, calm reflective waters, languid herons, and fading flowers. Though I’ve visited here three different times, it was always winter, a different sort of beauty with grey skies, cold misty fog, winter birds and plants, and the godawful nutria.
Thankfully no nutria this time, but ospreys soared in endless circles over the ponds in search of a meal, purple martins fed their young, swallows criss-crossed over still water, several blue herons dozed or groomed themselves on logs or posts that loomed skyward around the preserve, or stalked the water’s edge on a hunt. A few green herons hunted too, and a fellow birder pointed out one eating a frog. Alan got some amazing photos of all that.
Late summer flowers, weeds really, dominated the shores, and I noticed things I hadn’t noticed before, as I let my attention reel out wherever it got caught. This is how I heal my overtaxed and weary mind. Wild Carrot, or Queen Anne’s Lace (lots of folklore about that name), lined the water’s edges as it does along every roadside and path right now. But viewed close up, the grey-green umbel forms an intricate nest, the tinier seeds are curious and lovely, and the pattern of petals drew me in. It wasn’t until I got home that I learned that it’s not only aromatic, and the root, when crushed, smells carroty, but that it also has medicinal properties, including as an abortifacient (good word, eh?), like a morning after pill. I discovered it can also be mistaken for the Poison Hemlock, so best learn the difference before smelling the flower or crushing the root!
The ubiquitous Wild Teasel are invasive but striking as they stand tall and straight against the sky, dangerous looking spikes stretching in all directions. Swaths of Wild Chicory mixed in with the Wild Carrot, bright blue flowers I’d not noticed before, and matched the sky in brilliance. A small number of Elderberries and Rose Spiraea gave a splash of pink and red to the paths, but mostly were fading, summer’s last breath, not quite a gasp yet. We have many days of 100 degrees yet to come. Sounds like beach time to me. Stay tuned.